Waikato to host Auckland Matariki for first time

By Kawe Roes

Matariki is just around the corner and the programme is all set to celebrate the Māori New Year in Auckland.

This year, Waikato-Tainui, the fifth mana whenua group to serve as host, and the largest council in the country will welcome in the Auckland Matariki Festival. 

Festival organiser from Auckland City Council, Ataahua Papa (Ngāti Korokī-Kahukura) says, "The council is excited to be working with all Māori authorities across the region.

“Matariki Festival activities and events across Tāmaki Makaurau remind us of our history and origins while giving us all an opportunity to come together in celebration,” she says.  

“This special time of year enables us to enrich the cultural fabric of Tāmaki Makaurau and bring to life the city we love.”

Historically, Māori navigators were guided to Aotearoa by the stars, including Matariki (Pleiades), with crews using masterful wayfinding and voyaging techniques passed down through generations.

Those themes will be woven throughout the festival this season.

Papa says, "We know this year is 160 years of Kīngitanga, it's a year to celebrate them. Matariki is another way of celebrating that milestone and history."

She says telling the history of Waikato-Tainui is one of the big attractions this Matariki.

"For Tainui, Matariki is with her daughters, not her seven sisters," says Papa. "Matariki is the large star, while the daughters are the smaller ones. Matariki is the seven stars on the flag of the Kīngitanga (Te Paki o Matariki) and on the King's flag too. So, come down and learn about Te Paki o Matariki and all aspects of Matariki."

The festival programme will be unveiled on 5 June. It features more than 100 events where people can experience te ao Māori through stories, entertainment, discussions, performance and art.

Keep an eye on ourauckland, matarikifestival.org.nz and Facebook over the coming weeks for more event details.